‘Spiralling cost’ of online infrastructure delays meetings of parliamentary committees – Nadir

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Two weeks after he suspended all meetings of Parliamentary Committees and Sub-Committees at the Parliament Buildings with a promise to give approval for virtual meetings, Speaker of the National Assembly, Manzor Nadir, on Monday said that “spiralling costs” to set up the online platform have further delayed those meetings.

Speaking with the News Room by telephone moments after wrapping up a meeting with Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs, on the matter, Nadir said he still remains committed to going ahead with the pilot project.

He said while monies were budgeted to procure the necessary bandwidth, infrastructure and equipment, the estimate upon which the budget was done has been found to be far below what the project will actually cost.

“We have had some discussions but the cost now is spiralling. So this is one of the problems we have.

“There wasn’t a good match between the bandwidth needed and what we estimated… we have to reconcile cost… so it’s a decision to be made on cost because it is becoming quite expensive,” the Speaker told the News Room.

On April 17th, Nadir announced that all meetings of Parliamentary Committees and Sub-Committees at the Public Buildings have been discontinued with immediate effect until further notice.

This, the Parliament Office said in a statement, was due to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases. Some five members of staff had reportedly tested positive for COVID – 19 at the time.

Nadir had promised to give approval for virtual meetings of Committees when he is satisfied that all Members have access to the internet so that they can participate fully in meetings.

Nadir said too that the Parliament was still operating with a skeletal staff. As a consequence, he could not say when the next sitting of Parliament would be.

“We have to put a mechanism in place to bring Parliament to an operable complement of staff,” he added.

Nadir said the issue is one linked to vaccination on how to treat persons who have refused to be vaccinated.

“It doesn’t make sense we take precaution and shut down and people who are positive still, come into Parliament… we may have to require some form of testing or proof that persons have started the vaccination process,” he added.

The Speaker has also encouraged Members of Parliament who have not been vaccinated against the virus to do so.

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